MLB Free Agency, Philadelphia Phillies

Bryce Harper, Phillies rumors keep heating up

After all the rumors, Bryce Harper appears set to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies.

It’s been a long, strange trip in MLB free agency again this offseason, as top options Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have remained available into spring training. But while Machado continues to drag his feet, MLB Insider Jim Bowden reported Saturday that momentum was building in talks between Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies. On Sunday, Jon Heyman of MLB Network tabbed the Phillies has the favorite to sign Harper as things are becoming “intensified”.

All along, the Phillies have been among the top rumored suitors for Harper (and Machado, for that matter). They’ve had an active offseason, as they’re clearly ready to spend money. Even with a little more than a month passing since they met with Harper, Philadelphia has never been far away from the top of any list of suitors for the 2015 National League MVP.

If Harper signs with the Phillies, he would step right into right field and the middle of what’s shaping up to be a very potent lineup. Offseason acquisitions J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura will fortify catcher, left field and shortstop respectively, and Harper would usurp Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr and Roman Quinn in the corner outfield spot opposite McCutchen.

One of the questions surrounding Harper is if he’d stick to his desire for a long contract, along the lines of the 10-year, $300 million offer he turned down from the Washington Nationals before hitting free agency, or if he’d entertain shorter offers and open up a wider list of potential suitors. But Heyman suggested it will be a long-term deal with the Phillies, when or if it happens, so any idea of a short, one or two-year contract is being rendered moot rather quickly now.

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If the Phillies sign Harper, they would also greatly weaken the Nationals as they look to get back to the top of the NL East. That would make it a doubly good move, as Harper also tries to push back toward 40 home runs in a more hitter-friendly home park.

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